Oh Sweet Margarita of Cascia, Patron Saint of Lost Causes, we beseech
thee! Make the world safe for instrumental music once again! Is there
no room for swank little numbers uncluttered by the human voice? Time
was when the radio waves were littered with songs that eschewed the
crutch of vocals: Tequila, Sleepwalk, Popcorn, Green Onions, The Rumble, Walk—Don’t Run. Hell, even the themes to "The Rockford Files" and "Taxi" cracked the pop charts. Why then? Why NOT now?
Jon Rauhouse, god love ‘em, is not one to give up this quixotic quest so easily. The pedal steel/Hawaiian wizard, who has contributed his stylings to recordings by—among others—Calexico, Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, Giant Sand, Sally Timms and the Waco Brothers, lets fly his third CD, Steel Guitar Heart Attack. Hitting all the hotspots and g-spots between Harlingen TX and Honolulu, Jon and his band (featuring Calexico and Jon’s longtime guitarist/ co-conspirator Tommy Connell) swing, sigh, giggle and charm their way into even those with hearts of tar.
As a concession to the whims of those in need of a human voice every now and again, there are performances by a few of the top notch singers of our day: Neko Case (“East of the Sun”), Kelly Hogan (“Big Iron”), Rachel Flotard of Visqueen (“Harbor Lights”) and Sally Timms (“I’ll Be Seeing You”). These ladies’ll melt the ice in anyone’s punchbowl. Jon even steps to the mic for one (the theme to the Andy Griffith Show “The Fishing Hole”—betcha didn’t know it had lyrics, didya?)
The rest of the album is pure instrumental magic. Woozy, dreamy songs that’ll set your mind to sailing into the sunset, happy hour, or the arms of your Polynesian princess. Beguiling melodies that take us to “Idaho,” the “Hood Canal,” and the “Girls of Pajama Hill” (who hasn’t wanted to go there?) or provide the perfect wordless soundtrack when you want to wet your line or wet your whistle. Everything from country classics to the theme song from "Mannix." That’s called versatility, my friends. There’s even a banjo number that shows Jon can play stuff standing up, too (note: we cannot absolutely confirm that he was standing when this was recorded). And with some songs clocking it at a 1:50, Jon can bring it with Ramones-like brevity, but with class.
Why “Heart Attack?” Well, Jon started noticing chest pains when carrying his amp. Seems he had something known as a Widowmaker Lesion and critical blockages in major arteries from his heart. Emergency procedures, angiograms, catheterizations and stents followed. We are happy to report that all is well now; with his heart fixed, he can re-focus on saving the instrumental.
Jon Rauhouse’s Steel Guitar Heart Attack shows us all that you don’t need words, man, you just need a good rhythm while you’ve got the gin in the shaker.
(From Bloodshot Records)
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